The code of writers (and such)

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Among journalists, there exists an unofficial code. Actually, scratch that. There exists an understanding.

Writing can be hard. Daunting. You’re in the flow, you’re out of the flow. Things go well, things go crappy. Phrases come easily, phrases don’t come at all. We struggled with blocks, distractions, locks. Sometimes we have 20 minutes to write 1,000 words in a noisy press box … and it’s cake. Other times we have four days to write 500 words on Chipper Jones … and it’s torture. Anyone who has done this for more than a few months probably gets what I’m saying. Being a writer is blissful pain. That’s how I describe it. Blissful pain.

Anyhow, today I received an e-mail from a fellow journalist in regards to my Brett Favre column that ran on SI.com. (Here’s the link to the piece). This is what he wrote:

Jeff,

A few points re your Favre Viewpoint piece on SI.com. Before I start I’ll preface this by saying I’m a journalist who’s interviewed Troy Aikman, Wayne Gretzky, Lewis Hamilton and other sports notables. So maybe take this as constructive criticism. Or don’t, it’s up to you.

First, you write that Farve is like other star athletes who think they “walked on water” just because they could “throw/hit a ball really hard.”

A statement like this doesn’t really belong on SI.com, now does it? It’s the same lame argument used by people who don’t understand sports. Physical ability, raw talent, and competitive drive are really all any athlete has–or can hope to have–and Favre is a legend because he has more of each than probably any quarterback alive today. To you and my grandmother, he just throws a ball “really hard.”

Oh, and before I get to point No. 2, “walked on water” is a tired cliche. And don’t even get me started on “peeps.” Also, Lance Armstrong doesn’t ride a Huffy, but I understand you were going for irony. Good job there, I guess.

Second, the position you take on Favre is predictable and boring. I’m pretty sure I yawned twice while reading your piece. I know I’ll never get that three minutes of my life back, and it makes me kind of sad.

Third, you miss what’s really going on here. Farve is creating incredible drama for the upcoming season by preparing to take on his former team as the leader of a hated division rival. He’s no Benedict Arnold, as you imply. He’s mother-fucking George Washington in a red coat.

I won’t use his name, because it wouldn’t be cool. However, his letter—in my opinion—violates … something.

To begin with, he’s right. “Walked on water” is a cliche. A lame one. However, when you have, literally, 40 minutes to formulate an opinion and write a piece, things tend to slip by sometimes. It happens to absolutely everyone. Everyone. I assure you, were I to take the time to scan the works of Steve Rushin or Jon Wertheim or E.M. Swift or Grant Wahl or … anyone, I’d find the random misplaced cliche. We’re only human.

Second, I will never understand e-mails like this. You’re a journalist, not a fan—do you really care so much about the issue that you need to write a peer a snarky e-mail? And the friggin’ smugness of it all. Insufferable.

I know … I know—not a big deal. I can deal with letters from readers (usually). But other journalists … meh.

Plus, I looked up his work. To be polite, this probably wasn’t the guy to be writing such a note. Oh, well.

15 thoughts on “The code of writers (and such)”

  1. So this guy can’t be even a quasi famous writer.

    Ignore those below you, they’re just trying to make a name for themselves by taking on people above them.

    He really started his email with, “I’m a journalist who’s interviewed . . . sports notables?” What a jackass.

    Just delete and move on Jeff.

  2. why does everyone seem to forget Favre WANTED to play for the Packers.
    they didn’t want him.

    so how’s it his fault that he’s playing for another team?

    if I were a Packer fan (I’m not) and loved Favre, I’d be mad at my team for dumping him.

  3. chris,

    doesn’t it get annoying when you’re gf/wife can’t make up her mind about what to wear? And in the end it really has no impact on anything cause she looks great in anything?

    well, favre’s incessant retiring and unretiring is affecting the continuity of a multi-million dollar franchise.

    besides, he sucks. it was such a jets-type desperation move to sign him last year.

  4. pointsguy,
    which franchise is he affecting?
    the Vikings want him.
    the Packers didn’t.
    both have every right to take that position.
    I agree, he’ll probably never survive the season and he’s not very good anymore.
    but the whole “he’s tarnishing his legacy by signing with MINN” is b.s.
    he was given no choice when the team he wanted to keep playing for, GB, dumped him.

  5. I think the thing that gets overlooked is that, even as his skills started to erode in GB and they drafted Rodgers as the heir apparent, this move apparently offended the Golden Brett to the point where he decided to hold his employer hostage every summer with the on/off retirement talk – conveniently allowing him to miss most of camp.

    “Will he play or won’t he?” had to have become a distraction for the team and management and certainly didn’t help Rodgers get ready.

    GB may have “dumped” him but there comes a point where the GB management finally said “this is too much of a headache” and decided to go with Rodgers.

    The realization that his ego no longer held the sway it once did was probably the biggest hit Favre ever took.

    He’s a great early season QB but falls apart at the end. I don’t think signing with MN hurts his legacy; his ego and selfishness by not stepping aside and mentoring Rodgers and keeping GB in the lurch during the end of summer did that for him.

  6. Wow. If only I could convince those guys at Google that my “Douche Bag Filter” was a good idea, then we would all be saved from moments like this one.

  7. chris,

    He’s tarnishing his legacy, not b/c he signs with teams other than GB, but because he stinks out on the field. He had a few good years when he limited his ridiculous throws. He’s using that to make a mockery out of the NFL and the media who give him undue unending respect.

  8. As a journalist who’s interviewed Michael Jordan and Pedro Martinez and Motörhead’s third drummer, I’d just like to say that “walked on water” is a tired cliché. And don’t even get me started on “Chipper Jones.”

  9. About a decade ago, I joined the staff of an upstart sports magazine that didn’t amount to much. I wrote about two things for it, but in that time, I “interviewed” several Pro-Bowl players with a press pass that any five year old and a dot matrix printer could make.

    It only took about three staff meetings with editors who sounded exactly like this pompous idiot for me to decide maybe sports-writing wasn’t the thing for me.

    Anyway, you’re wrong in your blog about one thing. This guy is obviously a fan before a journalist. Was it Stuart Scott?

  10. Wait, he didn’t say this publicly did he? Then why is he the offending party? If it really meant that little to you, why write about it in a column?

    Wouldn’t you prefer people to criticize you in this way as opposed to in an open forum where they’re trying to make a name for themselves?

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